Amasya, The City of Ottoman Princes

We had been planning to see Amaseia, the city of the Amazon queen Amasis, for a long time. So, one spring morning we got into our car and drove towards the Black Sea region. After a comfortable 3-hour ride (a rather short distance in Turkey), we arrived in this absolutely breathtaking city. Driving through the hills, all of a sudden round one corner, Amasya lay in front of us with all its beauty. Nestled in the canyon of the lazy Yeşilırmak (the Green River), the city of Hittites, Asyrians, Byzantians, Greek Pontus and Ottomans lay quietly.
We both gasped at the beauty in front of our eyes. With the river running through, traditional balconied houses lined along the river, and ancient Pontic rock tombs in the canyon, this is a place to instantly fall in love with! Like a small, peaceful fishing village somewhere in the Italian riviera. Nothing ostentatious. Nothing loud. Subtle and sublime.

We found a little B&B to stay in. Our room was small, immaculately clean, and furnished with lovingly restored original items. When the owner showed us to our room, he shared the story of the mansion and proudly showed us the bathroom in the cupboard! Yes, the original wooden cupboard in the room has been transformed into a modern bathroom with hot water and other modern amenities. On the other end, our small balcony overlooked the green waters of the Yeşilırmak. Cool air from the river wafted into the room through the French windows and moved the white curtains. Under our feet, the old wood floor felt soft and warm.

When we stepped out of the room, we found ourselves in a small green courtyard with a water-well in the middle and birds singing in the cherry trees. Our idea of happiness :)

As the lights came on in the evening, we took a walk by the river. The ancient Pontic rock tombs (333-26 BC) behind the riverside houses shone like jewels in a shop window. We had climbed up to a few during daytime, but they looked so much more impressive in the evening.

We then had dinner at the City Club. First we thought it was a members only place because of its prominent position by the river, luxury cars in the car park, the fancy name and the uniformed attendant outside. We walked in as if we owned the place and nobody objected so we can only assume it's open to the public. We sat on the balcony and had a fantastic dinner of fish and raki (Turkish version of ouzo). The prices were reasonable and the service good. Of course, with such a rich cultural heritage, Amasya does have a fantastic cuisine and the local specialities in the club also looked delicious. Definitely recommended.

Amasya is also known as the City of Ottoman Princes. It was here that many young sultans worked and learnt about state affairs. There are several monuments, mosques and bath houses to visit from Ottoman times. Some are still in use and the museum is also well worth a visit.

We possibly cannot end this entry without mentioning the apples of Amasya! Small, juicy and crisp, these apples are a classic in Turkey. Definitely try them and also remember that a Cherry Festival is organized every year in the city in early June.

NB. Some of the photos used here have been borrowed from Amasya municipal website.

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